February 03, 2008

Shakespeare, Aleutian-style

An 'Othello' for Alaska

Making tragic hero an Aleut fits neatly with Shakespeare's linesThe Bard might not have recognized this setting--Kodiak Island, 1849--since it's a couple hundred years and half a globe away from ye olde England. But he would've known these "Othello" lines by heart. Or most of them, anyway.

In a new version of "Othello," the bitter tale of jealousy, ambition and racism centers on an Aleut man as he rises within the Imperial Russian Navy and starts life with his new Russian bride, Desdemona. But since this is one of Shakespeare's tragedies, Othello's promising life is destroyed by scheming and bloodshed.

For Athabascan actor Allan Hayton, who plays Othello, this project acknowledges how hard Native Alaskans have had to struggle against stereotypes and exploitation. He said the production also is further reminder that Native Alaskans belong in the theater community, both onstage and in the seats.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

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